Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is US Finally (Really) Leaving Afghanistan? Germany and France Already Packed!

We acquire some excellent reportage on exactly what's happening in Afghanistan now as anger rears its irrational head and bites wherever a soft target presents itself, after the attacks and the earlier news that the troops may be staying longer, from Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse at the TomDispatch.

Tomgram: The End in Afghanistan?

February 28, 2012
Blown Away

How the U.S. Fanned the Flames in Afghanistan

Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse

Is it all over but the (anti-American) shouting -- and the killing?  Are the exits finally coming into view?

Sometimes, in a moment, the fog lifts, the clouds shift, and you can finally see the landscape ahead with startling clarity.  In Afghanistan, Washington may be reaching that moment in a state of panic, horror, and confusion.  Even as an anxious U.S. commander withdrew American and NATO advisors from Afghan ministries around Kabul last weekend -- approximately 300, military spokesman James Williams tells TomDispatch -- the ability of American soldiers to remain on giant fortified bases eating pizza and fried chicken into the distant future is not in doubt.

No set of Taliban guerrillas, suicide bombers, or armed Afghan “allies” turning their guns on their American “brothers” can alter that -- not as long as Washington is ready to bring the necessary supplies into semi-blockaded Afghanistan at staggering cost.  But sometimes that’s the least of the matter, not the essence of it.  So if you’re in a mood to mark your calendars, late February 2012 may be the moment when the end game for America’s second Afghan War, launched in October 2001, was initially glimpsed.

Amid the reportage about the recent explosion of Afghan anger over the torching of Korans in a burn pit at Bagram Air Base, there was a tiny news item that caught the spirit of the moment.  As anti-American protests (and the deaths of protestors) mounted across Afghanistan, the German military made a sudden decision to immediately abandon a 50-man outpost in the north of the country.

True, they had planned to leave it a few weeks later, but consider the move a tiny sign of the increasing itchiness of Washington’s NATO allies.  The French have shown a similar inclination to leave town since, earlier this year, four of their troops were blown away (and 16 wounded) by an Afghan army soldier, as three others had been shot down several weeks before by another Afghan in uniform.  Both the French and the Germans have also withdrawn their civilian advisors from Afghan government institutions in the wake of the latest unrest.

Now, it's clear enough: the Europeans are ready to go.  And that shouldn’t be surprising.  After all, we’re talking about NATO -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- whose soldiers found themselves in distant Afghanistan in the first place only because, since World War II, with the singular exception of French President Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s, European leaders have had a terrible time saying “no” to Washington.  They still can’t quite do so, but in these last months it’s clear which way their feet are pointed.

Which makes sense.  You would have to be blind not to notice that the American effort in Afghanistan is heading into the tank.

The surprising thing is only that the Obama administration, which recently began to show a certain itchiness of its own -- speeding up withdrawal dates and lowering the number of forces left behind -- remains remarkably mired in its growing Afghan disaster.  Besieged by demonstrators there, and at home by Republican presidential hopefuls making hay out of a situation from hell, its room to maneuver in an unraveling, increasingly chaotic situation seems to grow more limited by the day.

Sensitivity Training

The Afghan War shouldn’t be the world’s most complicated subject to deal with. After all, the message is clear enough.  Eleven years in, if your forces are still burning Korans in a deeply religious Muslim country, it’s way too late and you should go.

Instead, the U.S. command in Kabul and the administration back home have proceeded to tie themselves in a series of bizarre knots, issuing apologies, orders, and threats to no particular purpose as events escalated.  Soon after the news of the Koran burning broke, for instance, General John R. Allen, the U.S. war commander in Afghanistan, issued orders that couldn’t have been grimmer (or more feeble) under the circumstances.  Only a decade late, he directed that all U.S. military personnel in the country undergo 10 days of sensitivity “training in the proper handling of religious materials.”

Sensitivity, in case you hadn’t noticed at this late date, has not been an American strong suit there. In the headlines in the last year, for instance, were revelations about the 12-soldier “kill team” that “hunted” Afghan civilians “for sport,” murdered them, and posed for demeaning photos with their corpses.  There were the four wisecracking U.S. Marines who videotaped themselves urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans -- whether civilians or Taliban guerrillas is unknown -- with commentary (“Have a good day, buddy… Golden -- like a shower”).  There was also that sniper unit proudly sporting a Nazi SS banner in another photographed incident and the U.S. combat outpost named “Aryan.”  And not to leave out the allies, there were the British soldiers who were filmed “abusing” children.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how Afghans have often experienced the American and NATO occupation of these last years.  To take but one example that recently caused outrage, there were the eight shepherd boys, aged six to 18, slaughtered in a NATO air strike in Kapisa Province in northern Afghanistan (with the usual apology and forthcoming “investigation,” as well as claims, denied by Afghans who also investigated, that the boys were armed).

More generally, there are the hated night raids launched by special operations forces that break into Afghan homes, cross cultural boundaries of every sort, and sometimes leave death in their wake.  Like errant American and NATO air operations, which have been commonplace in these war years, they are reportedly deeply despised by most Afghans.

All of these, in turn, have been protested again and again by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  He has regularly demanded that the U.S. military cease them (or bring them under Afghan control).  Being the president of Afghanistan, however, he has limited leverage and so American officials have paid little attention to his complaints or his sense of what Afghans were willing to take.

The results are now available for all to see in an explosion of anger spreading across the country.  How far this can escalate and how long it can last no one knows.  But recent experience indicates that, once a population heads for the streets, anything can happen.  All of this could, of course, peter out, but with more than 30 protesters already dead, it could also take on a look reminiscent of the escalating civil war in Syria -- including, as has already happened on a small scale in the past, whole units of Afghan security forces defecting to the Taliban.

Unfolding events have visibly overwhelmed and even intimidated the Americans in charge.  However, as religious as the country may be and holy as the Koran may be considered, what's happened cannot be fully explained by the book burning.  It is, in truth, an explosion a decade in coming.

Precursors and Omens

After the grim years of Taliban rule, when the Americans arrived in Kabul in November 2001, liberation was in the air.  More than 10 years later, the mood is clearly utterly transformed and, for the first time, there are reports of “Taliban songs” being sung at demonstrations in the streets of the capital.  Afghanistan is, as the New York Times reported last weekend (using language seldom seen in American newspapers) “a religious country fed up with foreigners”; or as Laura King of the Los Angeles Times put it, there is now “a visceral distaste for Western behavior and values” among significant numbers of Afghans.

Years of pent up frustration, despair, loathing, and desperation are erupting in the present protests.  That this was long on its way can’t be doubted

Among the more shocking events in the wake of the Koran burnings was the discovery in a room in the heavily guarded Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul of the bodies of an American lieutenant colonel and major, each evidently executed with a shot in the back of the head while at work. The killer, who worked in the ministry, was evidently angered by the Koran burnings and possibly by the way the two Americans mocked Afghan protesters and the Koran itself. He escaped. The Taliban (as in all such incidents) quickly took responsibility, though it may not have been involved at all.

What clearly rattled the American command, however, and led them to withdraw hundreds of advisors from Afghan ministries around Kabul was that the two dead officers were “inside a secure room" that bars most Afghans. It was in the ministry's command and control complex. (By the way, if you want to grasp some of the problems of the last decade just consider that the Afghan Interior Ministry includes an area open to foreigners, but not to most Afghans who work there.)

As the New York Times put it, the withdrawal of the advisors was “a clear sign of concern that the fury had reached deeply into even the Afghan security forces and ministries working most closely with the coalition.” Those two dead Americans were among four killed in these last days of chaos by Afghan “allies.”  Meanwhile, the Taliban urged Afghan police and army troops, some of whom evidently need no urging, to attack U.S. military bases and American or NATO forces.

Two other U.S. troops died outside a small American base in Nangarhar Province near the Pakistani border in the midst of an Afghan demonstration in which two protestors were also killed.  An Afghan soldier gunned the Americans down and then evidently escaped into the crowd of demonstrators. Such deaths, in a recent Washington Post piece, were termed “fratricide,” though that perhaps misconstrues the feelings of many Afghans, who over these last years have come to see the Americans as occupiers and possibly despoilers, but not as brothers.

Historically unprecedented in the modern era is the way, in the years leading up to this moment, Afghans in police and army uniforms have repeatedly turned their weapons on American or NATO troops training, working with, or patrolling with them.
Barely more than a week ago, for instance, an Afghan policeman killed the first Albanian soldier to die in the war.  Earlier in the year, there were those seven dead French troops.  At least 36 U.S. and NATO troops have died in this fashion in the past year. Since 2007, there have been at least 47 such attacks.  These have been regularly dismissed as “isolated incidents” of minimal significance by U.S. and NATO officials and, unbelievably enough, are still being publicly treated that way.

Yet not in Iraq, nor during the Vietnam War, nor the Korean conflict, nor even during the Philippine Insurrection at the turn of the twentieth century were there similar examples of what once would have been called “native troops” turning on those training, paying for, and employing them. You would perhaps have to go back to the Sepoy Rebellion, a revolt by Indian troops against their British officers in 1857, for anything comparable.

In April 2011, in the most devastating of these incidents, an Afghan air force colonel murdered nine U.S. trainers in a heavily guarded area of Kabul International Airport.  He was reportedly angry at Americans generally and evidently not connected to the Taliban.  And consider this an omen of things to come: his funeral in Kabul was openly attended by 1,500 mourners.

Put in the most practical terms, the Bush and now Obama administrations have been paying for and training an Afghan security force numbering in the hundreds of thousands -- to the tune of billions dollars annually ($11 billion last year alone).  They are the ones to whom the American war is to be “handed over” as U.S. forces are drawn down. Now, thanks either to Taliban infiltration, rising anger, or some combination of the two, it’s clear that any American soldier who approaches a member of the Afghan security forces to “hand over” anything takes his life in his hands. No war can be fought under such circumstances for very long.

Apologies, Pleas, and Threats

So don’t say there was no warning, or that Obama’s top officials shouldn’t have been prepared for the present unraveling. But when it came, the administration and the military were caught desperately off guard and painfully flatfooted.

In fact, through repeated missteps and an inability to effectively deal with the fallout from the Koran-burning incident, Washington now finds itself trapped in a labyrinth of investigations, apologies, pleas, and threats.  Events have all but overwhelmed the administration’s ability to conduct an effective foreign policy.  Think of it instead as a form of diplomatic pinball in which U.S. officials and commanders bounce from crisis to crisis with a limited arsenal of options and a toxic brew of foreign and domestic political pressures at play.

How did the pace get quite so dizzying?  Let’s start with those dead Afghan shepherd boys.  On February 15th, the U.S.-led International Security Force (ISAF) “extended its deep regret to the families and loved ones of several Afghan youths who died during an air engagement in Kapisa province Feb 8.”  According to an official press release, ISAF insisted, as in so many previous incidents, that it was “taking appropriate action to ascertain the facts, and prevent similar occurrences in the future.”

The results of the investigation were still pending five days later when Americans in uniform were spotted by Afghan workers tossing those Korans into that burn pit at Bagram Air Base.  The Afghans rescued several and smuggled them -- burnt pages and all -- off base, sparking national outrage.  Almost immediately, the next act of contrition came forth.  “On behalf of the entire International Security Assistance Force, I extend my sincerest apologies to the people of Afghanistan,” General Allen announced the following day.  At the same time, in a classic case of too-little, too-late, he issued that directive for training in “the proper handling of religious materials.”

That day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was on the same page, telling reporters that the burning of the Muslim holy books was “deeply unfortunate,” but not indicative of the Americans’ feelings toward the religious beliefs of the Afghan people.  “Our military leaders have apologized... for these unintentional actions, and ISAF is undertaking an investigation to understand what happened and to ensure that steps are taken so that incidents like this do not happen again.”

On February 22nd, an investigation of the Koran burnings by a joint ISAF-Afghan government team commenced.  "The purpose of the investigation is to discover the truth surrounding the events which resulted in this incident," Allen said. "We are determined to ascertain the facts, and take all actions necessary to ensure this never happens again."

The next day, as Afghan streets exploded in anger, Allen called on “everyone throughout the country -- ISAF members and Afghans -- to exercise patience and restraint as we continue to gather the facts surrounding Monday night’s incident.”

That very same day, Allen’s commander-in-chief sent a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that included an apology, expressing “deep regret for the reported incident.”  “The error was inadvertent,’’ President Obama wrote. “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.’’

Obama’s letter drew instant fire from Republican presidential candidates, most forcefully former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who called it an “outrage” and demanded instead that President Karzai issue an apology for the two Americans shot down by an Afghan soldier.  (Otherwise, he added, “we should say goodbye and good luck.”)

Translated into Washingtonese, the situation now looked like this: a Democratic president on the campaign trail in an election year who apologizes to a foreign country has a distinct problem. Two foreign countries?  Forget it.

As a result, efforts to mend crucial, if rocky, relations with Pakistan were thrown into chaos.
Because of cross-border U.S. air strikes in November which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, ties between the two countries were already deeply frayed and Pakistan was still blocking critical resupply routes for the war in Afghanistan. With American war efforts suffering for it and resupply costs sky-high, the U.S. government had put together a well-choreographed plan to smooth the waters.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was to issue a formal apology to Pakistan’s army chief.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would then follow up with a similar apology to her Pakistani counterpart.

Fearing further Republican backlash, however, the Obama administration quickly altered its timetable, putting off the apology for at least several more weeks, effectively telling the Pakistanis that any regrets over the killing of their troops would have to wait for a time more convenient to the U.S. election cycle.

Trading apologies to Afghans for those to Pakistanis, however, turned out to mean little on the streets of Afghanistan, where even in non-Taliban areas of the country, chants of “Death to America!” were becoming commonplace.
“Just by saying ‘I am sorry,’ nothing can be solved,” protester Wali Mohammed told the New York Times. “We want an open trial for those infidels who have burned our Holy Koran.”

And his response was subdued compared to that of Mohammed Anwar, an officer with the U.S.-allied Afghan police.  “I will take revenge from the infidels for what they did to our Holy Koran, and I will kill them whenever I get the chance,” he said. “I don’t care about the job I have.”

A day later, when Anwar’s words were put into action by someone who undoubtedly had similar feelings, General Allen announced yet another investigation, this time with tough talk, not apologies, following.  "I condemn today's attack at the Afghan Ministry of Interior that killed two of our coalition officers, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the brave individuals lost today," he said in a statement provided to TomDispatch by ISAF. "We are investigating the crime and will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack. The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered."

Allen also took the unprecedented step of severing key points of contact with America’s Afghan allies.  "For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul." 

Unable to reboot relations with allies in Islamabad due to the unrest in Afghanistan (which was, in fact, already migrating across the border), the U.S. now found itself partially severing ties with its “partners” in Kabul as well.
Meanwhile, back home, Gingrich and others raised the possibility of severing ties with President Karzai himself.  In other words, the heat was rising in both the White House and the Afghan presidential palace, while any hope of controlling events elsewhere in either country was threatening to disappear.

As yet, the U.S. military has not taken the next logical step: barring whole categories of Afghans from American bases.  “There are currently no discussions ongoing about limiting access to ISAF bases to our Afghan partners,” an ISAF spokesperson assured TomDispatch, but if the situation worsens, expect such discussions to commence.

The Beginning of the End?

As the Koran burning scandal unfolded, TomDispatch spoke to Raymond F. Chandler III, the Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army, the most senior enlisted member of that service.  “Are there times that things happen that don’t go exactly the way we want or that people act in an unprofessional manner?  Absolutely.  It’s unfortunate,” he said.  “We have a process in place to ensure that when those things don’t happen we conduct an investigation and hold people accountable.”

In Afghan eyes over the last decade, however, it’s accountability that has been sorely lacking, which is why many now in the streets are demanding not just apologies, but a local trial and the death penalty for the Koran burners.  Although ISAF’s investigation is ongoing, its statements already indicate that it has concluded the book burnings were accidental and unintentional.  This ensures one thing: those at fault, whom no American administration could ever afford to turn over to Afghans for trial anyway, will receive, at best, a slap on the wrist -- and many Afghans will be further outraged.

In other words, twist and turn as they might, issue what statements they will, the Americans are now remarkably powerless in the Afghan context to stop the unraveling. Quite the opposite: their actions are guaranteed to ensure further anger among their Afghan “allies.”

Chandler, who was in Afghanistan last year and is slated to return in the coming months, said that he believed the United States was winning there, albeit with caveats. “Again, there are areas in Afghanistan where we have been less successful than others, but each one of those provinces, each one of those districts has their own set of conditions tied with the Afghan people, the Afghan government’s criteria for transition to the Afghan army and the Afghan national police, the Afghan defense forces, and we’re committed to that.”  He added that the Americans serving there were “doing absolutely the best possible under the conditions and the environment.”

It turns out, however, that in Afghanistan today the “best” has not been sufficient.
With even some members of the Afghan parliament now calling for jihad against Washington and its coalition allies, radical change is in the air. The American position is visibly crumbling. “Winning” is a distant, long-faded fantasy, defeat a rising reality.

Despite its massive firepower and staggering base structure in Afghanistan, actual power is visibly slipping away from the United States. American officials are already talking about not panicking (which indicates that panic is indeed in the air). And in an election year, with the Obama administration’s options desperately limited and what goals it had fast disappearing, it can only brace itself and hope to limp through until November 2012.

The end game in Afghanistan has, it seems, come into view, and after all these fruitless, bloody years, it couldn’t be sadder. Saddest of all, so much of the blood spilled has been for purposes, if they ever made any sense, that have long since disappeared into the fog of history.

(Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books), has just been published.
Nick Turse is associate editor of  An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. His new TomDispatch series on the changing face of American empire is being underwritten by Lannan Foundation. You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on Tumblr, and on Facebook.)

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scientology Education In Your Children's Future? Don't Get Taken By Surprise As Your Tax Funds Go To Them Already!

Bomb Iran!

Speaking of attacks on Iran, I saw a report that Israel has already knocked out most of Iran's nuclear capacity in the last day or so. Since I have no verification of that, I will continue to research it and let you know, faithful readers, when I find good data. In the meantime, I did find this most interesting bit of current data on charter schools actually being fraudulent money-makers for the Church of Scientology. Talk about an attack. Read on, please.

Do you like to fund religious cults with rapidly vanishing (since the wealthy don't pay that much anymore) taxpayer funds? How about irreligious cults? Non-religious cults? Or just money-making cults with a religious bent? Or at least alternate religion sounding patter? Scientology has long presented itself as a money-making enterprise that sells books (oodles of books) and services (crazy-sounding services that no one should need) to the poorly educated (for example, Tom Cruise and John Travolta). How about entrusting them with educating your children (in the disguise of properly-vetted charter schools)?

Seems like lots of folks do. At least in Florida, Minnesota, and in many other states. And it may be coming to your state soon if it's okayed even when exposed as a fraud.

Crooks and Liars provides the crack reporting for us today.

February 27, 2012

Charter School or Scientology Center? Education In Rick Scott's Florida


By karoli

My alternative title to this post would have been something like This is why education is not a business. Except that in this case, it's not merely business interfering with children's education. It's a cult masquerading as a religion; specifically, Scientology.

In Rick Scott's Florida, charter schools are the preferred way to deliver "public education," and especially in areas with poor and underprivileged students. They are a gateway to ALEC's goal of completely privatized "public education."

This exposé in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times should be an object lesson for every single state in this country for why charter schools are a terrible idea. Worse than terrible. They're a waste of public funds and place children in danger of being "educated" by fanatics who place profit and dogma over educating children.

Some parents and former teachers at Life Force, which receives about $800,000 a year in public funding, say the Pinellas County charter school has become a Scientology recruiting post targeting children.
Opened to serve a low-income Clearwater neighborhood and advertising classes in computers and modern dance, Life Force had begun pushing Hubbard's "study technology," which critics call a Trojan horse Scientology uses to infiltrate public classrooms.
And while Life Force students and teachers worked in poorly stocked classrooms and teachers went unpaid, the bankrupt school funneled tens of thousands of dollars more to Islam's business interests than she told the bankruptcy court she would charge.
To understand just how bad this is, you should read these essays on Hubbard's "study tech" techniques, which were part of the curriculum these children were required to learn. Here's a snippet:

The Study Tech books fall into two groups. The first three, the Basic Study Manual, Study Skills for Life, and Learning How to Learn, cover Study Technology proper, but are targeted at different grade levels. These three books are the primary focus of this essay. The remaining two titles, How to Use a Dictionary, and Grammar and Communication for Children, are unremarkable introductions to grammar and punctuation that show only a few tiny traces of Hubbard’s influence. The Study Technology is also used in other Scientology-related "social reform" programs, notably the Narconon and Criminon drug and criminal rehabilitation programs. There, it is delivered in the form of a "Learning Improvement Course" utilizing a very similar set of course materials.
All five books (plus their Narconon and Criminon variants) are published by Bridge Publications, the in-house publishing arm of the Church of Scientology. They are distributed by a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization called Applied Scholastics International (ASI). ASI is a subordinate organization of theAssociation for Better Living and Education International (ABLE). This is in turn a subordinate, and an integral part, of the Church of Scientology, which exercises direct overall control of all of the aforementioned organizations. (Recently Scientology also began distributing the books through another front organization, Effective Education Publishing.) This complicated set of relationships, examined elsewhere on, is seemingly designed to obscure the central role of the Church of Scientology in the promotion and implementation of Study Technology.
Study Tech is founded on three principles: (1) use pictures and diagrams to illustrate the concepts being taught, (2) break down complex concepts so they can be mastered in a series of simple steps, and (3) always seek definitions for unfamiliar terms. These rules make sense and are harmless enough when phrased in plain English. But the Study Tech books present them in a different manner. The three principles are called “mass”, “gradients”, and “misunderstoods”: terms that were invented or redefined by Hubbard and loaded with significance in the Scientology religion.
From the Miami Times article:

Teachers who questioned study tech were told they had no choice but to implement it. Fifth-grade teacher Jason Lowe, who was fired in January, said Life Force director of operations Vikki Williams told him, " 'We are a study tech school,' and that if any of us had a problem with it, we had to get over it."
Three teachers said they were terminated last month without explanation. Lowe said he was fired because school leaders suspected he spoke with the Times. Several parents and teachers who talked with the Times were reluctant to be quoted because they feared retribution.
The problem in Florida is complicated even more by the fact that the school has filed for bankruptcy protection, which prohibits the overseeing school district from closing its doors. In an effort to save the school, the board approved a takeover by Hanan Islam, executive director of the World Literacy Crusade, an organization that proudly boasts of improving students' test scores using techniques developed by L. Ron Hubbard.

From Sunday's Times article:

Life Force paid the World Literacy Crusade more than $33,000 in September and October, bankruptcy court filings show, though they do not detail what that money bought. Islam's management company was paid more than $56,000 in the three months after the school's bankruptcy — nearly double the rate Islam told the courts she would charge the school.

While public education funds streamed out of the school, former teachers said the educational environment at Life Force declined.
The "arts and technology academy," which had promised parents their children would have access to Kindles and laptop computers, instead provided only a small lab with two working computers. Music, science and art classes were nearly nonexistent.
Teachers and parents began resorting to unorthodox means to keep the school afloat. When the school stopped paying for bus service, former teachers said, parents and teachers carpooled. After administrators denied requests for classroom materials like paper, pencils and textbooks, teachers wrote to parents asking for help with supplies.
Some teachers resorted to buying their own supplies, downloading free online curriculum sets, and copying whole workbooks and teachers' guides, former teachers said. Paid $85 a day before taxes, without benefits or sick days, some teachers waited months to receive their paychecks.
That mention of public funds streaming out of the school? Yes. There are 106 students at this school. One hundred and six. Ninety percent of them are on free and reduced cost lunch programs. What would you think an appropriate public funding level should be for a school that pays teachers $85 per day before taxes, doesn't provide supplies, technology, or approved textbooks? Here's what they've received, according to the Times article: $800,000 per year. Eight. hundred. thousand. dollars. For 106 students. That would be $7,547.00 per student of taxpayer dollars to a school which is using Scientology-based curriculum, ripping their teachers off, not providing students with a proper environment to learn, and which failed to meet benchmarks in four out of six areas, though I'm certain those children probably understand this concept, which is pounded home in the study tech curriculum:

Study tech combines common educational concepts like hands-on learning and word comprehension with what Hubbard defined as "barriers of study" and their manifested responses. "The real things or the objects that you study about are called mass," explains Learning How to Learn. Studying something without having the "mass" of it could make a student "feel squashed" or "sort of spinny," the book states. To get past that barrier, the student might be instructed to craft the idea with clay.
Newt Gingrich would be proud of this particular charter school's discipline policy and fiscal prudence:

The boys, the employee told school district officials, had gotten in trouble. For punishment they were to work alongside the school custodian. One boy would mop the floors; the other, scrub a bathroom.
Williams, Life Force's director of operations, told the school district this was ordinary practice at Life Force. Student discipline entailed forfeiting recess for "work detail."
Dot Clark, the school district's coordinator of partnership schools, told Life Force administrators that forcing young children to clean bathrooms was "inappropriate, unhealthy and a possible safety concern."
But Islam defended the practice. "We have found in many programs," Islam wrote to Clark, "having children contribute to the cleanliness of their environment (can) enhance their level of ownership and build their self-esteem."

This school continues to teach students. I refuse to use the term "educate" in this instance. Children are the gateway of choice for many religions, who establish schools as a means to reach out to the larger community around the children they teach. This could possibly be the first time I've seen public funds used to indoctrinate children into the teachings of a cult, however.

Florida taxpayers, and especially those children, deserve better. Instead, what they're getting is an expansion of charter schools with the full blessing of Governor ALEC Scott and Florida's ultra-conservative legislature.
About karoli
karoli's picture
Card-carrying member of we, the people
Geronimo.'s picture
Fuck Scientology. They are already trying to get into the education business with places like Phoenix University etc. Our education system is in disarray and in an emergency. They aren't even teaching people the truth about the most seminal events in our history. Sad. Oh yeah.. and Fuck Scientology.

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Paul the Sax Guy's picture
Be interesting to hear the school song... Xenu Boo! Body Thetans! Boo! Tom Cruise Yay!...
Or words to that effect...
damn... need more coffee... too damned early for bad sci-fi...

In the marketplace of ideas, too many people shop in the bargain basement.
-- Thunder BlueRose
Why, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU
Tax the Rich's picture
Plus, they have destroyed thousands of excellent public schools by averaging everybody's test scores together and saying education is a complete failure.
Now, thousands of excellent Blue Ribbon public schools have become nothing more than ACT Test prep sites, while thousands of the best teachers have said "to hell with this indoctrination shit," and left.

If I were a psychopath, I would join the republican party, and get in on the gravy train taking the Teabircher morons to the cleaners.
Tax the Rich's picture
Republican educational ideas: Replace intelligent, well educated caring teachers with fly by night greed head psycho's who will indoctrinate the kids in whatever flavor of lunacy the know nothing Charter School CEO desires.
There's lots of dollars to be made from those failing kiddies for a right-wing psycho greed head.
And you can get rid of intelligent, well educated, caring teachers - you know, liberals; and replace them with know nothing psycho greed heads - you know, conservatives!
What's worse, is OBAMA and his fascist idiot know nothing stooge Arne Duncan, are on the very same Michelle Rhee loving program - the SOB's!

If I were a psychopath, I would join the republican party, and get in on the gravy train taking the Teabircher morons to the cleaners.
Different Anonymous's picture
Hey, if you want to sign your billion year contract to serve the Sea Org and Scientology across multiple life times, you've got to get 'em in early.
Honestly, I don't see much difference between the thetan Scilons and the zombie rabbi worshippers. Where do you draw the line on how much lunacy is acceptable in our religious schools? I contend that no public money should be going to religious schools - whatever you want to call them - at all.
Paul the Sax Guy's picture
Is it only a billion? Thought it was 4... hey... where do I sign? My turn to hold the soup cans!

Limp-Dick Blimpaugh's picture

How long will the Reslug idiots in Florida keep voting against their own interests? Surely out of sheer ignorance and listening to the constant blatent lies on Faux Noise.
cund_gulag's picture
From schools to the military.
Wait, we can't completely privatize the military. There aren't enough Hessians around anymore.
But certainly schools!
And I know how we can cut costs while we're doing it - to save on taxes for the "Job Creators.".
Not only have the kiddies do the janitoring, but also do the teaching!
1st Graders can teach a Kindergartener. 2nd Graders can teach 1st Grade. And so on...
Why not?
They just learned the material, so it's fresh on their minds.
Trantorian's picture
They're too busy cleaning the toilets through Newt's programs. Kind of like OJT.

The people of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage." J.K. Galbraith
daganium's picture love how Republicans nitpick what crazy shit they will allowed to be teached to children:
1) Christianity as a divisive hate doctrine? = Acceptable.
2) Christianity framed in the life & teaching of Jesus? = Unacceptable.
3) Mormonism? = Unacceptable. (Yet flocking to the polls in Nov. to vote for a Mormon is acceptable).
4) Islam? = Open vows to kill those who dare.
5) Scientology? = Acceptable.
6) Catholicism? = if you are a Catholic that likes to stir the shit about contraceptives = Acceptable. If you are a Catholic that likes to live a 21st century life = Unacceptable.
7) Judaism? = Acceptable only if you are a zealot for Israel. Otherwise, unacceptable.
Republicans have so many ridiculous litmus tests for religions, it would take me all day to research then list them.

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in excess body fat & carrying a misspelled sign.
Paul the Sax Guy's picture

Hey, everybody needs a hobby...
And we pagans of every path are only thought of as "I'm not a witch, I'm you"
To which my only answer was, "I am a witch, and I'm so grateful to the Goddess that you're not me..."
Oh, and we're pretty fair game around the "non-sectarian" taxpayer-funded Air Force Academy....

Excelsior's picture
"I'm not a witch, I'm you"
Better that than "She's a witch! Burn her!"

There's always free cheddar in the mousetrap, baby. - Tom Waits
Paul the Sax Guy's picture
Much, much better... better still would be for such a thing to never be an issue regarding public policy, but it is what it is.

Paul the Sax Guy's picture

Note - this is not a justification for Scientology, as per Elrond's own words it was a way for a hack scifi writer to make a lot of money... Dr. Frankenxenu's monster is a lot more subtle this time around, and their paranoid little martinet of a leader has apparently changed tactics and is keeping a low profile, changing the names of the shells in the game (like Amway does with theirs), and acquire power and $$ in a subtle manner.

In the marketplace of ideas, too many people shop in the bargain basement.
-- Thunder BlueRose
Why, yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU
stan9fromouterspace's picture
"Call today the World Literacy Crusade today!"
Never mind -
that they should believe a lie": since we are talking about unprovable hypotheses, i may as well throw that old chestnut into the mix. it's not unusual in this country for all sorts of people to believe ridiculous things, it's the norm.
it's a win/win situation, deficits don't matter, iraq had wmd, and our emperor is a socialist.
the truth? we do have a state religion in this country, the state religion is the death cult we call capitalism, the worship of dead labor, just like dear old uncle karl said, him and his brother baudrillard. the high temple of this cult is wall street, and the sacrifice? our lives.
so it's no surprise that profit centers are sold as money savers, up is down, black is white, freedom is slavery.
Paul the Sax Guy's picture
Well, yeah... pretty strong delusion to turn fairly decent and talented artists, musicians and actors into borgs... wrecked a lot of lives, yet, like the Moonies' Wash. Times, Scientology gets a pass... big database of dirty laundry accumulated over the years is one explanation.

debaser71's picture

It's good to see liberals changing their views on charter schools.
fastfeat's picture
you just know the place is farcical.

"Parachutes are allowed in checked or carry-on baggage, but may not be worn in flight."
---Southwest Airlines
Peter G's picture
an indictment of charter schools (the school board clearly wants to shut it down) as it is of of the weird Florida bankruptcy laws which are the only thing keeping it open. You could use the same argument about a crappy public school to indict all public schools.

ricky's picture
Didn't she once head up a public school system?

glogrrl's picture
The Washington DC school district, I believe.

“The greatest evildoers are those who don’t remember because they have never given thought to the matter, and, without remembrance, nothing can hold them back,”
jimbo92107's picture
Turning child abuse into a for-profit business is not the same as educating children. Replacing competent education with buzz words, empty fluff and religious indoctrination is, if nothing else, a massive case of fraud that demands to be prosecuted and fully investigated for further instances of this kind of fraud and child abuse.
Once again, Eric Holder, do. your. fucking. job.

Samson-'s picture
...shall be the whole of the law"
so sayeth the thelemites.
makes for an interesting educational theory. what do students learn after that?
RayC's picture

Education is one of the areas in this country that progressives are losing the battle badly. I have had discussions that have led to shouting matches with people that simply believe that we spend way to much money on K - 12th grade education and the reason is everyone from teachers to janitors to administrators are scamming the system. When someone comes along and says they can do a better job for much less they are pushed to the front of line even when real studies show no difference or a worse outcome, they will be listened to first. Many people know how to educate our children but it can't be done with a quick fix with no parental responsibility and it can't be done on the cheap so they will not be listened to. Only the grifters who tell you they can cure your illness with one bottle of snake oil for one dollar will be listened to.
ricky's picture
Their Charter School Law is ranked higher than Florida's under Rick Scott.
Oh, and Florida's Charter schools began under Lawton Chiles.

Floridiot's picture
Mn charter school failure rate is higher than hell. Don't know why it hasn't been kicked out to pasture yet..
drshatterhand's picture
" Scientology is cult masquarding as a religion..." Ahem, all religions are cults. The only difference is the number of members.
Paul the Sax Guy's picture

I would rather say that, like so many religions, that it is a book and fake service selling organization masquerading as some kind of faith.

Libertas's picture
hardly surprising since Clearwater is Scientology Base.
Amitola's picture
the Education of our youth will be handed over to anyone who wants to have a "school" once Ricky S. gets
elected Prez. He wants to do away with any kind of standards on a federal, state and maybe the local level, too.
So, it'll be like on Oprah - You get a school! You get a school! And, you get a school! Everybody gets a school!!!! Then, we can even more cults and religions and political groups and corporations getting tax-funding to inculcate the kiddies with even more depraved ideas.
No, No, No, No, No!!!!! If we do nothing else, we must find a way to save and vastly improve public education if we are to have any chance of saving and fixing our society. We can start by ending the charter schools and phasing out tax subsidies for religious/cult schools of any ilk.

"Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of Stupidity" - Frank Leahy